Published: Wed, April 04, 2018
World | By Camille Rivera

Chemical weapons watchdog to meet on poisoned ex-spy case

Chemical weapons watchdog to meet on poisoned ex-spy case

He said: "We were able to identify it as novichok, to identify that it was military-grade nerve agent".

Gary Aitkenhead, chief executive of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) at Porton Down, told Sky News they were not yet able to prove it was made in Russian Federation.

The British government insisted that several pieces of information contributed to its conclusion that the Russian government was responsible for the nerve agent attack, including intelligence that Russia had produced Novichok within the last decade and had investigated ways of delivering nerve agents for assassinations.

The nerve agent had been placed on Sergei Skripal's front door, police said.

Aitkenhead then hinted towards the involvement of a state actor in the manufacturing of the nerve agent, while pointing out at the sophisticated methods deployed in the manufacturing of the poisonous agent.

Gary Aitkenhead says "it's our job to provide the scientific evidence that identifies what the particular nerve agent is ... but it's not our job to say where that was actually manufactured".

European Union nations, the United States and other Western countries joined Britain in expelling more than 150 Russian diplomats, and Russia has responded by kicking out scores of Western envoys.

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The March 4 poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the English city of Salisbury sent shockwaves across Europe.

Britain blames Russian Federation for the March 4 attack on Skripal and his daughter Yulia, a claim Moscow fiercely denies.

Ms Skripal's condition improved significantly last week and she is now said to be conscious and talking.

The global chemical weapons control body will hold an emergency meeting to discuss the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal, at Russia's request.

The OPCW (Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) said its executive council would meet in the morning in The Hague.

Scientists at the U.K's Porton Down lab previously identified the poison as a Soviet-developed type of nerve agent known as Novichok.

According to an April 2 article from the Washington Post, in a March 20 phone call between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump proposed a meeting at the White House.

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OPCW experts have taken samples from Salisbury to try to verify the nerve agent used and its origin. Her father, however, remains unresponsive and critical.

"You expel diplomats, we expel diplomats, you further expel, what's the next step?"

Earlier on Tuesday, deputy foreign minister Alexander Grushko said, in comments relayed by Russian news agencies, that the Skripals' poisoning was a "provocation arranged by Britain" in order to justify high military spending because "they need a major enemy".

Evgeny Buzhinskiy - who served in the Russian military for more than 40 years - said the row between Britain and Putin was creating a situation "worse than the Cold War".

He said that if Britain does not show evidence to back up its allegation, "there are ample grounds to assume that we are dealing with a grand scale provocation organized in London aimed to discredit Russian Federation".

When asked if there was any realistic possibility of triggering war, a spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May said: "We need to respond in a proportionate way to this aggressive behaviour from Russian Federation and that's what we're doing".

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